According to Variety and other sources, Will Smith has been banned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Oscars nominations for a period of ten years. (I refer to all other news websites on the internet as “other sources”).
Will Smith was already apologetic and had resigned from AMPAS before this latest punishment. He wrote in a statement Friday that he accepts the Academy’s punishment, according to Deadline.
“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.”
This punishment comes of course in response to the “Slap Heard ‘Round the World,” where Chris Rock took one to the face for making a rather tame joke about Will Smith’s wife’s hair. Some people found the joke offensive, but if Demi Moore was in the original GI Jane you might see it as a tribute to badassery. The clip has been played ad nauseam–this one, posted by Guardian News, has been seen almost 94,000,000 times, but I’ll link it here anyway, in case you’ve been hiding under a rock or are just returning from the International Space Station.
These are the facts: Chris Rock was slapped by Will Smith; Smith has since resigned and is being punished. This is it. The facts aren’t really up for debate.
What is up for debate, apparently, is whether or not criticism of Will Smith’s behavior is… you guessed it… racist.
That debate picked up steam on social media Friday night, with many proclaiming the punishment of Smith overly harsh, and that the severity of the punishment is because he’s black. Just type “Will Smith Oscars racism” into the Twitter search bar and you’ll find a maelstrom of vitriol from both sides of the debate. But it’s important to remember that his Oscar wasn’t returned by Academy.
Surprisingly, racism accusations were also being levelled BeforeIt was harshly punished. Here’s an example from the Guardian, published on March 29:
White outrage about Will Smith’s slap is rooted in anti-Blackness. It’s inequality in plain sight
From Jemele Hill and Billy Crystal to Kareem Abdel Jabbar and Whoopi Goldberg have all contributed their thoughts on whether or not the act of assault was justified. Howard Stern weirdly decided that Will Smith and Donald Trump “are the “same guy,” somehow implying that Trump had any relevance to this event whatsoever (he didn’t).
But the debate shouldn’t be that complicated; in fact, it shouldn’t be complicated at all. A much larger male–whether Latino, white, Asian, doesn’t matter–walks up to an unsuspecting, much smaller male (of any race), and slaps him (hard!) An international TV audience watches as he slaps the other cheek. This is also happening in the most sacred chambers of Hollywood. We need to consider the race of perpetrators. An assault was committed by a man, who should be punished.
I like Will Smith, and think he’s a great actor. Are Men In Black? C’mon man, that’s good stuff. I don’t wish him any ill will. It’s hard not to feel empathy for him, especially after he appeared in possibly the most cringeworthy video of all time, a “Red Table” talk, where his wife openly talked about her affair with another man. (“Red Table Talk” is a talk show starring Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow, and her mother Gammy.)
This story wasn’t about race. It was about violence.
But when we can’t criticize one man for slapping another in fear of being called racist, it shows that the Left’s obsession with race–and constantly pushing us to view every single thing through the lens of race–means we can barely converse at all.